Samsung Galaxy A3 review
|Review: February 2015|
Last updated November 2015
In a nutshell: The Galaxy A3 from Samsung is a mid-range phone with a premium metal design. It's compact, ultraslim, and exceptionally light in weight, and is quite possibly the nicest-looking phone you can own in this price category.
Today's best buy: Samsung Galaxy A3 SM-A300 from Gameseek (£205.81)
A pocket-sized premium design
The Galaxy A3 is a more compact version of the Galaxy A5. Like the A5, it's an ultraslim smartphone with a premium metal design. Measuring less than 7mm thick, it's a very pocket-friendly phone, and is astonishingly light, weighing just 110g, making it one of the very lightest smartphones in production. The design is probably the phone's most desirable feature, and it certainly looks and feels a lot better than most other Samsungs. It's just a pity that the large camera lens sticks out by a millimetre or so at the back.
The screen is smaller than on the A5, and measures 4.5 inches. This is quite a bit smaller than most high-end smartphones, but is still a decent size, and not everyone wants to carry around a huge screen. The screen uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, and is adaptive, so it responds to ambient lighting conditions. It's a bright display, with very high levels of contrast, good colour fidelity, and wide viewing angles. Just one thing lets it down, and that's the relatively low pixel density of 245ppi. It's not even a HD screen, but has a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels.
Snapdragon 410 processor
The A3 is built around the same Snapdragon 410 processor as the A5. This is a 64-bit quad-core processor running at 1.2GHz. Despite the lure of 64-bit processing, this is a decidedly mid-range processor. It makes the A3 less capable than Samsung's flagship phones from several years ago, such as the Galaxy S3 or S4. Having said that, for everyday tasks, you shouldn't notice any problems, with only the more demanding games showing the limitations of the processor.
The A3 comes with 16GB of onboard memory - more than most mid-range rivals - with a microSD card slot too. This is a distinct advantage of this phone. The amount of RAM is 1.5GB, which is generous for a mid-range phone, and helps to speed up apps.
The phone runs Android KitKat 4.4.4 with Samsung's TouchWiz modifications on top.
The A3 follows the trend for beefed-up selfie cameras, with a 5 megapixel front camera, and an 8 megapixel camera on the rear.
We'd rate the cameras on the A3 as fair for the price, with high quality daylight shots, and rather grainier performance after dark. The selfie capability is better than many though, and there's a neat feature that lets you take 20 still shots and automatically make them into an animated GIF. There's also a new wide selfie mode.
The phone is a 4G device with most connectivity options included - Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, USB, Bluetooth, NFC and ANT+.
The battery installed in the Galaxy A3 is significantly less powerful than that in the A5, and this is problematic. Although the screen is slightly smaller, the A3 uses the same processor as the A5, and really needs a comparable battery. Yet it has a 1900mAh battery - typical of the capacity seen in entry-level smartphones.
There could be tears over this. Maybe even before bedtime.
Conclusion - a mid-range phone with a premium design
The Galaxy A3 is a mid-priced phone with a premium design, and that makes it quite special. We're particularly impressed by how slim and light it is, and if you don't like the new trend for huge phones, the A3 will look like a very attractive option. Certainly its design is its killer feature.
At launch, the phone was priced way too high, but now that the price has fallen to less than £200, it seems like much better value. Be aware that this isn't the fastest or most capable phone for the price. In particular, you can buy a bigger, higher resolution screen and a faster processor for the same money. But the A3 does come with a generous 16GB of memory, and it doesn't underperform.
We've taken quite a liking to the A3, and it's hard not to be smitten by its charm. We think that this new design twist from Samsung is something to be welcomed, and we look forward to meeting more A-series phones in the future.
Samsung Galaxy A3 features include:
- OS: Android KitKat 4.4.4
- 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, autofocus, face detection, smile shot, digital zoom, 1080p HD video recording
- 5 megapixel front camera with 1080p HD video recording
- Display: Super AMOLED, 16 million colours, 540 x 960 pixels (4.5 inches)
- Integrated handsfree speaker
- GPS, Glonass, Beidou with Google Maps
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, email
- Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410, Adreno 306 GPU
- Memory: 16GB plus microSD card (up to 64GB), 1.5GB RAM
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC, ANT+
- LTE 4G (Bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20), 3G HSPA+ (850/900/1900/2100 MHz), Quadband EDGE / GPRS
- Size: 131 x 66 x 6.9 mm
- Weight: 110g
- Battery: 1900mAh battery
Got a question? This is the place to ask it!
Please don't ask a question that has already been asked. Duplicates will be removed.
Can A3 be used with additional telephone lens?
Asked by roy
on 11th Apr 2017
Can you tell me why i cant download picture message sent to me as mms?
on 11th Dec 2016
How are you supposed to use it without an instruction book?
Asked by Martin
from u k
on 26th Mar 2016
Reply by S21
on 26th Mar 2016
A user guide is available here: www.samsung.com/uk/support/model/SM-A300FZWUBTU
Samsung Galaxy A3 user reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 8 reviews:
Reviewed by meme
from south africa
on 8th Nov 2015
Loving this slim A3 nice.
Reviewed by Wiiliam
on 18th Sep 2015
I am dumb founded why the J5 a 13 megapixel demon with better screen res better batt life and 5.1 android proc,, is CHEAPER than the A3 im so mad i bought the a3,, nice phone none the less but for a few bucks cheaper i could have bought a much better phone,, WTF samsung???
Reviewed by Sunjay Bhogal
on 7th Sep 2015
I decide to purchase this phone as a replacement for the big uncomfortable Galaxy Note 4. The note 4 was too big for everyday use and I wanted to buy a smaller and lighter phone for just browsing, music player, texting and calls. I have a kindle 7 inch tablet HDX for gaming, TV, Movies and books.
I seeing the price drop to £190, I decide to take the risk in buying this one, even though I was aware of the lower spec of the camera, RAM and processor.
Glad I made the move to the much lighter and smaller phone. I have to say there are no issue with lagging, actually I found the phone much more responsive and fast when I compare to the Note 4. The camera is good as well, nice good quality photos which are not too big in size.
This is a very good looking high quality phone at a cheap price, I am very please with it and it is so much nice to go back to a smaller and normal size phone.
Reviewed by Sean
on 26th Aug 2015
Very pleased with this phone, which I have had for a month now. It is nice and fast and the camera takes great photos in good light. I really like the metal body and the fact that it has Gorilla Glass. Very light and thin, so easy to carry in the pocket.
The battery life seems to have improved since the Lollipop upgrade and is OK now.
Reviewed by Siobhan
on 1st Jun 2015
It doesn't have Swype and feels very flimsy.... much preferred my old Galaxy I-1900.
Have to take mine back as it was supplied with an incorrect charging plug.
Reviewed by Nishtha
on 21st May 2015
Samsung Galaxy A3 has taken the art of clicking selfie to another level. The voice and palm technique of clicking selfie and new Wide Selfie functions make this smartphone selfie friendly. It often gets uncomfortable using one hand to hold your phone and click pic with the same. With Galaxy A3 you can easily click selfie with your voice or palm. For more details you can visit Samsung India site.
Reviewed by Paul
on 24th Mar 2015
This is a superb phone, currently only rivalled, in my view, by the iPhone 6 in terms of size, weight and styling.
My previous Sony Xperia M was driving me up the wall as the screen wasn't quite wide enough to type on with two thumbs using the qwerty keyboard in portrait mode. Also the camera quality was not really good enough.
I had a look round and the only suitable alterative I could find that wasn't overly big was the iPhone 6, and I was almost on the verge of shelling out for it.
Luckily the A3 was launched and I found the size and weight to be perfect for me. Also the camera is very good quality and has a really good “show the hand” feature to make taking selfies much easier (hold your palm to the phone to invoke a two second self timer).
As with many smartphones the battery life could be better but this can be managed by turning down the screen brightness and using power saving mode. I easily get a normal day's usage on a single charge.
Furthermore the phone is fast and I’ve had no problems with it whatsoever.
Maybe it does cost a little too much for the sum of its features but I consider it well worth it for the size and styling alone.
Reviewed by Tom
on 22nd Feb 2015
Just bought this phone and no complaints. Screen is nice and bright, camera takes good pics, handles all the games ive played so far with no problems and battery has lasted full day even with medium use. It looks superb as well, so much better than previous samsung phones. Very happy with it. 5 stars.